Professor Stephen Hawking FRS has joined up with Virginia McKenna, Will Travers and others, including Joanna Lumley, to urge the British government to take urgent action to prevent the continued disappearance of African lions. America has placed heavy restrictions the importation of lion products. It is time that the British government followed suit. They are dragging their heels. There is absolutely no reason why the British government should not take urgent action.
In a letter to The Times, Professor Hawking writes that from more than a million lions in the 1800s, and 500,000 in the 1940s, there may be now than fewer than 20,000 wild lions left in Africa as a result of loss of habitat and natural prey, and increased conflict with people (I’ve quoted verbatim).
The letter says that trophy hunting is having a negative impact on lion population numbers. I must add that trophy hunters always defend their deviant behaviour by saying that sport hunting of lions is good for conservation. I have one word for that which is un-quotable.
They want a complete ban as mentioned and they want the government to support independent and scientifically verified population censuses to ascertain exact lion numbers and thereby to guide future lion conservation.
They are also calling for lions to be placed on Appendix 1 of the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. In addition they are requesting that the government take action through development programmes and international trade agreements to provide the resources needed to implement effective conservation measures (once again I’ve quoted verbatim).
There is no justification for not doing as requested by these distinguished and well-known people. Come on British government, do what you must do, do what you are obliged to do. The British government have always professed to have an eye on improving the lives of people across the world (huge overseas aid bill) to thereby improve the UK. That attitude must extend to wild species which are constantly under threat by human expansion and activities.